Ed O'Donnell '86, associate professor of history
Holy Cross Associate Professor of History Ed O’Donnell ’86 is one of the experts helping to bring the stories of the visionaries behind the most epic builds of the past two centuries to life for a national audience.
As the latest installation of The HISTORY Channel’s popular “That Built” franchise, “Engineering That Built the World” sheds light on the iconic structures and engineering feats that have shaped and defined our nation and our world, from the Golden Gate Bridge, to the Panama Canal, Transcontinental Railroad, Statue of Liberty and beyond.
In the show, O’Donnell details several topics ranging from the criticism that President Roosevelt faced during the process of building the Panama Canal to the idea of using controlled nuclear blasts to eradicate mountains bordering California’s Mojave Desert in order to accommodate the creation of Interstate 40.
“I’m honored to be included in this series and had so much fun filming the segments,” said O’Donnell. “The process takes hours in the hot seat and you never know how much (or how little) ends up in the final cut of each episode. You also film in front of a green screen, so you don’t know where you’ll be when you appear on screen!”
O’Donnell, a member of the Holy Cross class of 1986, earned his Ph.D. in American history from Columbia University. In addition to teaching a course at Holy Cross on Gilded Age America, he is the author of several books, including “Visions of America: A History of the United States” 3rd edition (Pearson, 2016) and “Henry George and the Crisis of Inequality: Progress and Poverty in the Gilded Age” (Columbia University Press, June 2015).
An experienced voice in the media, O’Donnell has published op-eds in media outlets, including The New York Times, and has provided historical insight and commentary for numerous national outlets including PBS, the Discovery Channel, ABC World News Now, National Public Radio, the BBC, Bloomberg Radio and Huffington Post. He also hosts a popular podcast, In The Past Lane, exploring various topics in U.S. history.
To see the full series, go to History.com.
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